SIGNS with the NHS and HM Government logos telling the public there is no access to right of ways have appeared on footpaths in Langley Burrell writes Matthew McLaughlin.

Sarah Singleton found signs on farming stiles marked with official government logos but did not think there was a DEFRA or council announcement on the closure of public right of ways.

She said: “I don’t know who put the signs in place, but they clearly state there is ‘no access to general public’.

“I think it is vital we all conform to the measures the government has announced to protect our communities from Covid-19, but the guidance is currently clear that people can take a local walk each day for exercise.

“I understand people shouldn’t drive to beauty spots to walk, and nor should they be walking in groups, but being able to walk locally is important for our physical and mental health.

“If that happens of course we should abide by them, but in this case, it seems somebody has pre-emptively tried to stop people using legitimate paths which are currently ours to walk by right.”

However, farmers have urged the public to stay off their land by putting up signs, as they are concerned over their potential exposure to Covid-19.

In an online statement, the National Farmers Union said: “NFU members have been concerned over the volume of people who have been flocking to the countryside in recent days.

“They see crowds of people in close proximity and many public rights of way go through their farmyards and gardens. However, we may need emergency measures in place to protect the vulnerable and alleviate anxiety.”

The NFU are calling for more communication on the responsible use of right of ways and whether farmers in at-risk groups can put up signs stating they are self-isolating.

A spokesman for Bowood Estate said: “Yes, I can confirm that public footpaths throughout the Bowood Estate remain open – and Bowood encourages responsible users, complying with the very clear government advice, to enjoy exercising in the great outdoors while practising social distancing.”

Cllr Bridget Wyaman, Cabinet member for Highways, Transport and Waste said: “So far the government has not issued any guidance to close public rights of way and they should all still be open. The signs put up on footpaths in the Langley Burrell area are unofficial signs and we will be investigating this further.”

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